A silly little sign reading, “Winter is for the birds,” hangs on one of our kitchen windows. I purposely placed it there because outside of that window, you can view our birdfeeder attached to our backyard deck.
So winter really is for the birds at our house. Usually, when someone uses this phrase, it means that winter is undesirable, and a lot of folks agree with that statement.
After all, the winter season, especially here in the northern and western hemisphere of the world, delivers cold temperatures, often frigid ones. Frost, ice, and snow along with wind chill factors are the norm, and it can become downright bleak outside.
Most of us think that before winter arrives, birds flock south from this northern clime where I live, but that’s not true for all bird species. Some actually hang around during the winter and don’t pack their bags for Florida like human “snowbirds” do.
Years ago, however, we didn’t see many birds in our yard during the winter season. Possibly, the fact that we owned a calico cat, who believed herself to be quite the hunter and stalker, prevented birds from visiting us.
Once we placed a bird feeder in a backyard tree, things changed somewhat. As we kept it filled with birdseed, we would catch glimpses of cardinals, blue jays, and a few smaller birds here and there, but not many.
Those hoggish black crows tried their darnedest to join the feast also but were too large to get their beaks into the feeder, thank goodness.
A few years later, our beloved Callie went to kitty heaven, and then we purchased a suet cake holder for a front yard tree and a second birdfeeder that could attach to our deck railing. We positioned it so we could view our fine-feathered friends from the windows by our kitchen table.
And fine-feathered friends began arriving in droves or I should say flocks, especially during the winter season.
Not only do we enjoy visits from several Mr. Reds, those bright red, male northern cardinals, but also from their mates, females of muted brown with small slashes of red. They stand out so brilliantly against a snowy scene.
But we’ve also spied several different bird species, common to our area of the state, but not really noticed by us before we started tempting them into our yard with a smorgasbord of seeds.
So far, in addition to the flashy cardinals, these lovely birds are partakers of our free eats: tufted titmouse, white-breasted nuthatch, black-capped chickadee, white-throated sparrow, house finch, song sparrow, American goldfinch, cat bird, and black-eyed junko. But I haven’t managed yet to get photos of all of them.
Blue jays still try to chase the other birds off and perch unsuccessfully on the feeder to grab some tasty morsels, but they soon give up and fly away because they are just a mite too big to sit there comfortably munching away. Larger birds like mourning doves have also gravitated to our outdoor dining area but gather on the ground below the feeder to gobble up seeds that fall.
Often, it looks like a bird convention at that feeder, but when I try to move close enough to the window to capture a photo, they get spooked and fly off. Still, during these cold winter days when we’re socked into our home, not so much because of weather conditions as the continuing pandemic restrictions, birdwatching provides enjoyment for us.
That’s not the only reason we keep refilling the feeder though. As we supply a little nourishment for the birds, we also provide them a little shelter from the snow.
Watching our little visitors supplies a feeling of serenity and a bit of peace for us. Those moments cause us to be still and silent as we watch at the window, so we don’t frighten our fine feathered friends away.
Is winter really for the birds? Definitely, at least at our house.
“Feeding the birds is also a form of prayer.” ~ Pope Pius XII